Lean In: What’s the Best Career Advice You’ve Gotten?


There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg’s newly released book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.” We have yet to read the book (just picked up our copy yesterday!), but frankly, no matter where we stand with the arguments presented, we are so grateful to Sheryl for sparking this conversation.

We NEED to be able to yell and scream, or calmly discuss all of our perspectives about work, careers and family life. We need to be able to think critically and speak about what the media is selling us in relation to what our choices are, and talk about where on the spectrum of choices we actually stand. And we need to be able to talk about the challenges that women face in the workplace and how we can actively make things better, by leaning in or otherwise.

Inspired by Sandberg’s book and her call to women to “Lean In,” we reached out to the Skillcrush community and asked them for the best career advice they had ever received. Here, we share some of their selections.

A few of our current Skillcrush 101 students weighed in as well:

“Ask for what you want.”

-Marie Tessier

“Never complain, never explain. Also: Never underestimate the power of red lipstick.”

-Catherine Zuckerman

“My mentor once told me, “Dear, don’t bake.”

“She came up in the 1960’s at this all-male magazine. She really was a pioneer, and was one of our first female senior editors. I think what she meant was that the guys in charge are all too eager to dismiss you because you are a woman. You don’t need to remind them with cookies. Let them think about your excellent work, not your excellent recipes, when they think of you
Either that or my cookies really sucked.”

-Margaret Zackowitz

” ‘stuff cotton in your ears and just keep walking’ – to those who would doubt you.”

– Sherry Brukbacher

“Don’t wait until you need a job to start networking.

Never stop learning.

No one is going to notice how smart, hard working, etc you are. You have to tell them, show them, etc.”

-Sandra Cruz

“‘If you don’t take their money, they can’t tell you what to do. That’s the key to the whole thing.’ Bill Cunningham

-Mercedes Kraus”

“Thankfully my father began telling me at a very early age that I could be anything I wanted to be. And, even when I still struggle deciding what I want to be when I “grow up,” he still reminds me. In fact, he said something of the sort last week :) More recently I really responded to this: ‘Trust your intuition. Be smart, be brave, tell the truth and don’t take any shit!'”

-Kate Long

“The wisest advice from my grandma, ‘Not everything merits your best effort.’ and from my sister about raising kids, but it fits lots of other circumstances, as well, ‘Don’t do things for kids that they can do for themselves.’ “


“When you are unsure of the right thing to do, give yourself the advice you would give to your daughter if she were in your position.”

– Elizabeth Amorose

Reprinted by permission.

Visit Techs and the City for more discussion on the issues facing women in technology.

About the author: Skillcrush

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